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When Arduino was conceived AVR was very much the best 8-bit controller available. But we're 10 years on now, and still using the AVR, despite lots of better microcontrollers available, notably ARMs. In particular M0 and M0+ cores are a lot cheaper, yet are a lot faster and have many more features than AVR.
For instance the NXP LPC824 has more serial buses, more A/D channels and higher A/D resolution, is almost twice as fast as the AVR, yet costs 30% less. (Granted, it doesn't have EEPROM, but you can have that for 20 cents.)

So I was wondering if there are particular issues which prevent the use of more modern microcontrollers on Arduino.
One difference may be Vcc, which is 5V for AVR and 3.3V for ARM. But given that more peripherals work at 3.3V this seems more to be an AVR issue than an ARM issue.

PS: I'm aware of Arduino Due, but that one costs twice as much as a Uno. I'm talking about controllers which price-wise can compete with AVR.

  • M0+ for the win. It seems like you have enough knowledge in the subject, why not just move your project to arm yourself? – portforwardpodcast May 11 '15 at 13:07
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There is NO best 8 bit or 16 or whatever bit uC (micro controller).
There always have been "better" ones and there always will be and better changes with your need as well as with time.

If you want or need a faster or more capable processor, use one.
For many tasks the existing AVR processors are very fine indeed.

A number of people are making Arduino-like uC's using ARM right now.
You can buy them 'off the shelf'.

Running "Arduino" code is where issues arise:
If you are willing to run 100% standard Arduino code applications will usually run well on the new uC.
If applications use precompiled libraries and you wish to use eg an ARM it will not run.
If you recompile the libraries and they are written in a compatible language flavor (C or whatever) then they MAY work for your new processor.
If they use assembler then they will not work in essentially all cases.

But, existing 'Arduino' hardware can use the high level language of your choice. A new processor with a compatible compiler will compile eg C code that runs on Arduino hardware BUT port locations, register control methods etc need to be correctly allowed for.

It gets harder and harder as you try to fit the new giants into the old not-so-giant framework. Somewhere along the way it is easier to give up the attempt and use the Arduino for what it is good for and the 'new' processor where necessary.

Whatever the Arduino did well when new it still does well.

In most cases the speed, peripherals and memory capabilities are entirely fine for tasks that people who wish to use it wish to do.
The main issue is that an Arduino is not something it is not, just as a small family car is not a bus or a sportscar. Use the car where it is useful and use a bus or sportscar when necessary.

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